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05 March 2018 @ 04:22 pm
Road to hell paved with "Good Intentions"... (thoughts on SPN and episode 13.14)  
I've had some time to chew on my response to this past episode, and I still haven't watched it again. Don't think I will, either. It's not that it was gaudy awful; it just, hmmm … okay, I'm just not invested in this ensemble cast that the show is pushing at us.

cassiopeia7 and caranfindel have both written wonderful, entertaining recaps/reviews of “Good Intentions”, so hit their journals if that's what you're looking for.

I'm going to be contemplative about the current direction of the show, with a big dose of Sam!girl salt. Just so's you know. I'm still in it for the long haul, but I have complaints. (No, YOU?)

As I said above, Supernatural has become an ensemble cast. Jared and Jensen may still be in every episode, to varying degrees, but their characters are no longer actually the central nexus of the mytharc. This is different from the first half of the series' run in that Sam and Dean's relationship and watching them untangle the mystery that was their family (as well as themselves), kept us glued to the TV. Not anymore.

Nowadays, a fan is as likely to be watching for Destiel or Wayward Sisters or Jack or anything else BUT Sam and Dean. And given the popularity of this Destiel business, anything else but Sam.

And it shows.

Sam and Dean are often little more than guest stars in their own series these days. Not only that, they've gone from 'epic' heroes to 'iconic' heroes. (I mentioned this elsewhere, but I'll recap here, because it has merit, IMHO.)

We all pretty much know what an epic hero is: a man whose fortune is brought about by his own admired characteristics. They're proactive, rise above their flaws, and take on Herculean (see what I did there?) tasks. The iconic hero, however, is more like a Conan the Barbarian or a Mad Max. The tale isn't really about them, but they are the thread that connects the plot points together. They're almost like tour guides through a story. This is pretty typical for procedural television, actually. (How much did Jessica Fletcher from 'Murder She Wrote' actually evolve?) Problem is, that's not really how SPN gained the rabid, loyal fanbase that it did. It started as a horror procedural, but bottled lightning when Kripke and Singer realized the magic they had in the relationship between Sam and Dean. It wasn't just the chemistry between the actors; the audience tuned in to watch the brothers unpack their emotional baggage and struggle with each other and a difficult paternal relationship. All the while, monsters, demons and angels nipped at their heels, and ultimately, they had to confront the fact that both of them were inextricably entwined, by blood, with a fate bigger than mankind. They started, and thwarted, The Apocalypse.

Nowadays? The Winchesters have become iconic heroes in the MotW episodes, MacGuffins in the mytharc ones. Per TVTropes: “A MacGuffin (a.k.a. McGuffin or maguffin) is a term for a motivating element in a story that is used to drive the plot. It serves no further purpose.”

Jack wants to be on the 'good' side for the Winchesters. Mary is being told that her sons made a positive difference, so she feels worthy herself. Claire returns to the roost to save Sam and Dean, thereby kicking off Wayward Sisters. Cas, uh, well Dean's there for him so that Destiel shippers have something to do. And Sam is there for Rowena to sucker him into giving her powerful magical whatevers, so she can return to bite them on the ass later. If we're SUPER lucky, we'll get a scattered handful of lines that reveal something about what's going on in Sam or Dean's noggin. Nothing about Sam-and-Dean's relationship. (Wee, it's so healthy now!) Nothing about them being supposedly too “important” to reap yet, per Billie-as-Death. (My guess is Dabb has nothing concrete planned for this.)

Lucifer doesn't give two shits about Sam as his original vessel, nor will Michael give any shits about Dean being his. Sam and Dean are just annoying flies in the ointment, eminently disposable.

Honestly, think about it: if Sam and Dean actually died died right now, it would impact absolutely nothing, plot-wise. Cas would continue to track Lucifer, Jody would continue to shepherd her girls, Mary and Jack would keep each other safe, trying to escape Apocaworld … I'm seriously not invested in the plot anymore. I watch the show out of fidelity, for the horror and the handsome.

This past episode, Sam stayed behind in the bunker while Dean and Cas went off and had a rough-n-tumble little adventure together. Sam, on the other hand, was easily taken out by Donatello, apparently overpowered Donatello later (off-camera) and then spent the last scene of the episode out of focus. Literally wallpaper. (Dean tends to be the Little Black Dress of the show; he looks good with everyone, so he gets screentime no matter what, with lots of those loving shots that linger on his face. I do enjoy those, make no mistake! But y'all know me... )

It's like they're dividing the show into two parts: the MotW episodes, with our iconic heroes (Sam and Dean) going through their typical paces, and the mytharc episodes, wherein our iconic heroes fade into set design, as the other characters become the epic heroes. Or epic villains, as the case may be. And I have to be completely honest: I don't much care about these epic characters. I'm just not invested in them.

I became invested in Supernatural like no other show. It struck me like a heart attack. I have never once wanted to find tie-in novels or search out additional products before, which is how I stumbled on fandom in general, the SPN one, in specific. But I'll tell you, if the current genesis of the show had been the one I'd seen, 13 years ago? I never would've gotten hooked. No way in hell. And this makes me reeeeeally frustrated, as the characters that got me addicted to begin with are still on the show, yet written with such disinterest.

Yeah, I know, it's not easy to explore characters who have long histories. It's far easier to take on characters who are still pretty much blank slates. I get it. Doesn't change the facts for me. SPN is a show that was conceived as one thing, turned into something else, and now is suffering for it. This season has been more “ensemble” than most. Thanks, Dabb. Ya fucker.

The next episode seems to be a MotW, so at the very least, I'm sure to get something more than Sam knocked out or blurred into obscurity. Right?
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
Current Music: 'Is Your Love Strong Enough?' - How To Destroy Angels
Amber: Bumamberdreams on March 5th, 2018 09:50 pm (UTC)

I want my heroes epic, fuck the icons.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: pic#120284814quickreaver on March 5th, 2018 11:41 pm (UTC)
I saw your comment on caranfindel's review about how if you can substitute Sam for Cas, the scene would probably be better ... and frankly, that's true most of the time! (But then of course I would say that, lol!)

I'm so frickin' sick and tired of the aimless wanderings of the show. I don't think Dabb has a Big Picture clue what he's doing.
(no subject) - amberdreams on March 6th, 2018 08:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - quickreaver on March 6th, 2018 07:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on March 5th, 2018 10:09 pm (UTC)
All of this. At this point I don't watch the show, I just watch the bits with Sam and Dean on YouTube. I'm happy for viewers who enjoy the new stuff but it's just 'meh' for me. I'm just dreading that the inevitable ending won't be worthy of Sam and Dean's history.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: pic#120284814quickreaver on March 5th, 2018 11:41 pm (UTC)
caranfindelcaranfindel on March 5th, 2018 10:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah, so many good points here. Every once in a while The Husband says "I understand why you love that show" and I'm like NO, YOU DON'T. Unless you watched it from the beginning, you couldn't possibly understand. Right now, it's a show I'm nostalgic about. The earlier seasons are WHY I'm nostalgic. We get so thrilled about little dribs and drabs (Sam's talking about why he's unhappy! We have an interesting MotW!) of what we used to get in spades. I'm in it for the long haul, but... Yeah. {sigh}
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: pic#120284814quickreaver on March 6th, 2018 01:29 am (UTC)
I stumbled on a podcast today, hosted by four SPN fans (all Destiel shippers) and one of them started watching the show TWO YEARS AGO, and due to tumblr, was chagrined that Cas wasn't in all the episodes. THIS is the fan the show is writing for, now. The fan that doesn't know why Sam and Dean are the leads. The one that believes the show demands a cast of a zillion to cover every base it can cover. The one that doesn't know why Cas and Dean can't be lovers and Sam can't go off and find himself a dog and a pretty wife because "won't that make him happy?"

God, I'm bitter ... sorry! (Life's been a little rocky and I want my damned show to make me happy!)

PS ... in a nutshell, I'm so tired of crumbs.

Edited at 2018-03-06 01:30 am (UTC)
(no subject) - amberdreams on March 6th, 2018 08:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - quickreaver on March 6th, 2018 07:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - amberdreams on March 6th, 2018 09:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cassiopeia7 on March 10th, 2018 09:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - amberdreams on March 10th, 2018 10:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
lipglosskaz: dean sam he aint heavy he's my brokazluvsbooks on March 6th, 2018 01:59 am (UTC)
YOU GET ME YOU REALLY GET ME!!!! ditto to all of this this.

Loved your analogy to Dean being "the little black dress" EXACTLY!!! and when Dean is onscreen you are keeping all the SamDean AND Deancas fans happy!

I have never wished that a showrunner would leave, but i gotta say, i LOVED S11 so MUCH, right up until the last three episodes, which is when Dabb took over, and we got Lucifer as a comedic device etc, Mary coming back but having no relationship with her sons, Sam and Dean being all buddy buddy, but losing their connection etc etc.
I think he is the first showrunner, instead of making his own vision, is making the show FOR the fans, which is never a good idea, and in doing so, is changing the show to ensemble and making it just not the spn that i fell in love with.

Look, i like a lot of the other characters, but only as much as i like characters in other shows that i enjoy. For me, SPN and the Winchester family line ARE IT, and i think Dabb has forgotten, that J2 are literal stars on screen, they are such good actors, and beautiful, and when they are angsting together, or over each other, the show is EXCEPTIONAL, take that away and it is just like all the other shows...

In my own opinion hah! Jared thought it was a good idea to expand the universe, to give he and Jensen a break, and obvs thought it would be interesting. I honestly don't know if he even realises that some of his scenes are being cut, that he is being blurred out, or that the camera doesn't include him at all when he is in the scene.
I think Jensen doesn't really like the new format. He usually brings up older Seasons as faves, and said at Vegascon this last weekend, that he wishes the boys were still looking for Dad. I think he kinda knows...

That said, i will be here until the end, i still love show, even if it wasn't what it was, and we still do get scenes of brilliance..my hope is, that we will get a new showrunner to take us to the end..
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: pic#120284814quickreaver on March 7th, 2018 11:07 pm (UTC)
I completely understand needing to expand the universe to give J2 a break! (And I think Jared gets excited about stuff and is way more impulsive than Jensen, who tends to be more pragmatic.) I suspect you're also right in that Jared doesn't always watch the episodes, and sometimes doesn't realize when scenes are cut. And here's the thing with that: Jared thinks the viewer has the same understanding of canon as we do, but we CAN'T when we don't get the whole canon! And that's super frustrating.

With great regularity, I'm seeing people questioning where on earth this "new" version of SPN is going, and expressing displeasure. Dabb thinks he can throw in lines from the Kripke era and that means the show is "getting back to basics". Well, no. There is something fundamentally DIFFERENT about the way Dabb runs a show, something that is contrary to the philosophy the show was built on. But Singer is in there too, and he's been around since Day One. I dunno, maybe the dream team of Kripke and Manners was the special sauce?

Thanks for putting up with my laments, Kaz! I'm in it 'til the bitter end too, but that doesn't mean I won't bitch. ;)
harriganharrigan on March 6th, 2018 02:17 am (UTC)
If I ruled the world, I'd say commit now to ending the show after episode 300. Give us creative talents who can write an arc that would deliver what we (i.e. those of us agreeing with you here, LOL!) want, and a send-off that the show deserves, focusing on Sam and Dean.

Then send Wayward Sisters into an alternate universe where all our favorite killed-off female characters can come back. And figure out a way for Sam and Dean to guest star occasionally. (If they can't go to the AU, then let some of the AU characters come thru the rift to Sam-n-Dean world once in a blue moon.)
lipglosskaz: dean sam Family Businesskazluvsbooks on March 6th, 2018 03:37 am (UTC)
this sounds good to me!!
(no subject) - madebyme_x on March 6th, 2018 11:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - quickreaver on March 7th, 2018 11:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
crowroad3: pic#124252374crowroad3 on March 6th, 2018 04:05 am (UTC)
I was lamenting along very similar lines in private to laughablelament the other day--about ensemble (which, if you're gonna do it, do it well, with feeling and coherence and purpose), Winchester-backgrounding (backdropping?) and, as you and others here have brought up, audience (e.g. people who have not much feeling, nostalgic or otherwise, for certain past show-variants), and how things like well, time off for the boys, who they want on the show again/one last time, spinoff concerns, etc, seem to be driving forces that aren't being artfully-enough used. They've been drifting ensemble-ward for awhile. They've asked us to consider a world without Winchesters before ( last season, the one before ) , but now they really mean it? That's why I didn't mind the reading of you know, a nephilim-generated dimensional rip as kind of meta-. I mean--you can break a narrative's bones (within reason) but you can't break its heart. Or you can--but it hurts.

P.S. I can name things I like in S13, but: what you said.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: pic#120284814quickreaver on March 7th, 2018 11:20 pm (UTC)
Eeeeenteresting! Firstly, you are 200% correct in the execution of an ensemble cast. It's become a matter of quality and taste, neither of which it seems Dabb et al can wrangle. It's not that I haven't enjoyed aspects of the show that weren't Sam&Dean-centric, but not a one of the recent characters (or writers) can create a situation that makes me not miss S&D, yanno?

Has the SPN audience gotten so vapid, they're glowingly happy with the wide-and-shallow brand of storytelling Dabb is throwing at us? (Okay, that was mean, but I can't help feeling as if the Old Guard fans are just hanging on out of nostalgia, and the New School is gleeful with a cast of a thousand, who each get their own five minutes in the sun every once in a while.)

Secondly! Tell me what you like about 13! God, I'd love to love the show again...
fufaraw: red umbrella snowfufaraw on March 6th, 2018 04:41 am (UTC)
You know that gif from last year's Oscars, with Meryl on her feet, pointing and applauding? Me, you. Every damn word!
Amber: Bumamberdreams on March 6th, 2018 08:53 am (UTC)
Do you know, every article I read about SPN (Entertainment Weekly, etc, etc) posits that SPN is about two brothers, on the road fighting evil and saving people and the world. Every one. And Dabb has made them all liars.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: pic#120284814quickreaver on March 7th, 2018 11:09 pm (UTC)
Right?? So much for the show's elevator pitch, huh?
madebyme_x: Defaultmadebyme_x on March 6th, 2018 12:26 pm (UTC)
You really hit this on the nose for me. I love my brothers, it's what drew me in all those years ago and it's why I'm still here all these later. I think perhaps TPTB forget about us long timers, who've been here since the pilot and who still watch for two brothers hunting things, saving people, the family business.

I've never minded seeing 'guest stars' alongside the boys, but remember when the guest characters used to echo Sam and Dean's current troubles in some way? How it brought the guest star in line with the boys without overshadowing them? That's what I want, and I think perhaps that's why I'm quite fond of Jack. I still don't know why we need so many baddies that muddy the water and why we can't just have one central threat and make them awesome (I can remember how excited I was to have Mark P back as Lucifer in season 11, but he's still here and now I'm tired of it and I hate the sympathy for the devil story line, and while he's fun Ketch didn't need to come back either, and then to complicate it further we have Asmodeus. I could go on but I won't.)

So yes, we have a more ensemble cast now and I understand that J2 have families of their own and maybe they don't want the workload that you used to have - we're all a little older now! But I think somewhere along the line the heart of the show has been lost somewhat, and everyone now and again we get glimpses and that's what keeps me here and gets me all excited. Saying all that, I'm not going anywhere, I'm invested and have been for years, and maybe I need to be a little louder about what I like to see, but I'm going to keep writing my fics and drabbles, and I'll make damn sure that I won't forget why I love my show and our boys ♥
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: pic#120284814quickreaver on March 8th, 2018 01:42 am (UTC)
Yes, yes and YES. Especially these two observations:

...but remember when the guest characters used to echo Sam and Dean's current troubles...


...I think somewhere along the line the heart of the show has been lost...

While "Family don't end with blood" has been a theme since Bobby used it, it's apparently come to mean "EVERYONE IS FAMILY, NO MATTER WHAT". The message got diluted, the heart spread too thin.

I guess we'll just take those glimpses of what we used to love, and keep on doing our thing in fandom!
lennelle: pic#125421085lennelle on March 6th, 2018 12:39 pm (UTC)
It's so sad that I barely recognise the show I first fell in love with. Supernatural was a huge comfort to me during hard times, I binged the entire show before s10 premiered and have been watching it live since then. At the time, s10 was my least favourite, now I'd prefer it to what we get now.

I tune in each week (well, I stream over the internet because I live across the Atlantic) just because I still hold hope for a decent episode - which we've have received a couple of time this season but the writers seem unable to be consistent. I also stick around because there's no way I'd be able to abandon my beloved Sam.

I used to complain that Dean was treated better than Sam by the writers, because I really think they paid more attention to the inner workings of his mind than they did with Sam, but now I think even Dean has been neglected. Even Cas. I don't watch this show for side characters, I don't watch it for fictional ships, I don't watch for the villains. I watch for two brothers who love each other more than the world, I watch for their conflicts with each and with themselves, I watch for their triumphs and mistakes. I don't really know where these brothers went but I keep watching in the hopes that they'll come back.

Okay, rant over. I agree with every word you said.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: pic#120284814quickreaver on March 8th, 2018 01:53 am (UTC)
I WON'T ABANDON SAM EITHER. *snuggles with*

I absolutely think Dean was more explored than Sam, due in no small part to how much fun Dean is to write (the lovable rogue!), and the fact Sam was always 'othered', he was the one with the mystery, with something wrong, so to get inside his brain would mean giving stuff away. Consequentially, our rotating coterie of show writers don't really KNOW Sam. And it's evident in his hot mess of a characterization.

But yeah, now? Both Winchester brothers are afterthoughts, full of contradictions. They hardly fit in the mytharc, and have been marginalized in the episodes devoted to the villains and spin-off characters. Thank goodness for the MotWs, this season.

Rant joined with and vented. Somewhat, heh...
(no subject) - cassiopeia7 on March 10th, 2018 09:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
roxymissrose: Dean and Samroxymissrose on March 7th, 2018 04:46 am (UTC)
I'm not saying I don't enjoy other characters! I just don't want them to steal the story from Sam and Dean, is all. And that's pretty much what's happening under Dabb's rule

I agree with this. I do enjoy the other characters, but they are not why I came and why I stayed. I'm also very annoyed by folks who only started watching and have no idea of the importance of the two brothers. I have to blame that on the writers and the showrunners, particularly Carver, who seemed to go out of his way to destroy the brothers' dynamic. The show now reads like Dean and his friend Cas, and oh yeah, the other brother Sam.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: pic#120284814quickreaver on March 8th, 2018 01:57 am (UTC)
(no subject) - cassiopeia7 on March 10th, 2018 08:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: pic#120284814quickreaver on March 8th, 2018 02:12 am (UTC)
The ensemble cast is APING heart, but it feels contrived. Like fast-food vs. a nice sit-down, home-cooked meal.

There's no blasphemy in wanting less Cas. I used to really enjoy him, but lately, he's lost his cachet.

Ensemble casts are hard to get right on a good day, even harder when the show wasn't originally set up as one. Ensembles tend to be busy and shallow, pulled along by plot. We're not used to this. Why would we be? Once you've grown accustomed to micro-focused deep feels, no amount of superficial scattershot ones will do.
(no subject) - cassiopeia7 on March 10th, 2018 08:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
cuddyclothes: Dean B/Wcuddyclothes on March 7th, 2018 02:45 pm (UTC)
I haven't been watching this season, unless a description by one of you catches my interest. And it's been disappointing. I agree, having Sam and Dean as background characters makes the show not the show. You put it better than I could, way better!
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: pic#120284814quickreaver on March 8th, 2018 02:12 am (UTC)
Prettiest wallpaper ever!
Silvia: BigBang2010AmriaDeansillie82 on March 8th, 2018 12:09 am (UTC)
*nodding* Yup.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: pic#120284814quickreaver on March 8th, 2018 02:17 am (UTC)
cassiopeia7: Dean&Sam: Brotherscassiopeia7 on March 10th, 2018 08:42 pm (UTC)
Right on the head, sister! RIGHT. ON. THE. HEAD.
Oh, wow. I don't know how I missed this, but boy am I glad I finally found it, because you are spot-on. Somewhere along the line, SPN flipped from the epic tale of the Winchester brothers ... to the less-than-epic tales of Everyone And His Dog with blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearances by Sam and Dean.

Like you, this is NOT the show that lured me in, far from it. And honestly, I hate what the current showrunners-into-the-ground have done to Supernatural. I hate that the Sam and Dean have been reduced to walk-ons in their own show. I hate that, once certain characters arrive, Sam gets marginalized even further. I hate that when the writers shove in a handful of poorly-thought-out characters, the show suddenly becomes "Sam and Dean ... who?" and we're suddenly supposed to rally behind people that I DO NOT CARE ABOUT.

Honestly, think about it: if Sam and Dean actually died died right now, it would impact absolutely nothing, plot-wise. Cas would continue to track Lucifer, Jody would continue to shepherd her girls, Mary and Jack would keep each other safe, trying to escape Apocaworld …

See, this right here is bullshit. Not because you said it, Cris, but because it's TRUE. That these characters and their stories (that should be background stories) have been allowed to steal so much of Sam and Dean's screentime ... is absurd. What were Dabb & Co thinking?!

SPN is suffering from a bad case of overpopulation -- and the herd needs culling.

Edited at 2018-03-10 08:44 pm (UTC)
roxymissrose: bb 2018roxymissrose on March 12th, 2018 03:41 am (UTC)
RE: Right on the head, sister! RIGHT. ON. THE. HEAD.
SPN is suffering from a bad case of overpopulation -- and the herd needs culling.

Yes, you put that very well. I don't even think they need to actually kill off any characters. They just need to stop giving their storylines the same weight as Sam and Dean's.